Jesse Sergent (New Zealand) on his way to win the silver medal in the men's 4,000m individual pursuit.
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3-days of West Flanders winner targeting pursuits
Just a few weeks after taking his first professional victory with the RadioShack team by winning the prologue and overall of the 3-days of West Flanders, New Zealander Jesse Sergent has abandoned his brakes and derailleurs for his first love at the track world championships.
Speaking to Cyclingnews after his final training session prior to the most important day of the championships for the Kiwi men - that of the team pursuit, Sergent thinks the quick switch back to track racing from his road aspirations is going smoothly.
It's been a whirlwind since his win in Belgium - in the 16 days since he's celebrated his first pro win, he's flown halfway around the world for a week of training on the track in New Zealand, and then endured the long trip back to the Netherlands.
That kind of jet lag might not be the most ideal preparation, but Sergent said he's coming around just in time.
"I knew [the travel] was coming, so I just tried to prepare myself for it," he said. "I seem to have adjusted pretty well here, probably because it's the time zone I had been staying in."
Despite having a short amount of time to revive his track technique, Sergent is optimistic about his and his team's chances.
"We got in some pretty solid sessions on the track - definitely not as many as I had going into last year's worlds, but I think it's still enough. The technique for the team pursuit came back pretty quickly. It's more the standing starts and power that takes a bit longer, but it's all up there now, just in time for tomorrow."
At the young age of 22, Sergent is one of the leaders of the Kiwi team along with Sam Bewley (23), Peter Latham (26) and Marc Ryan (28). What he lacks in age, he more than makes up for in speed and experience, having been part of the New Zealand bronze medal teams at the Beijing Olympic Games (with Ryan, Bewley and Hayden Roulston) and the past two world championships.
Sergent said his main focus remains the team pursuit, since it is an Olympic event, but that he will also compete in the individual pursuit as his only other event.
"Going forward to next year, there's a lot of focus on the team pursuit, but for me the individual pursuit is a little bit more of an unknown. In previous years I've done trials [leading into worlds] over 3-4k and known what kinds of times I'm capable of. This year I haven't done any of that, so I'll be relying on my previous times.
"We'll have to see - they changed the programme too, the individual pursuit is now after the team pursuit, so I'm not sure what it I will feel like having a team pursuit in my legs.
"I think having the done all the road racing means my recovery is pretty good, but we'll have to see."
Sergent predicts a close race between the top four teams - Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and, mostly likely, Russia. "The top four teams will be close, and it's all going to come down to the little things on the day. It will be pretty awesome if we can make the gold medal ride off. Even if we don't and we ride a fast time or the fastest time we've ridden, we'll still be happy and be able to take something good out of it."
In the individual pursuit, Sergent will face world record holder Jack Bobridge, who became the first rider to crack Chris Boardman's previously considered untouchable 4:11 mark.
"I haven't really thought of trying to match him," said Sergent. "A 4:10 ride is really amazing. Most people don't realize how fast that is - my best is 4:15 and going 5 seconds faster is like another planet. Hats off to him for doing that. I'm sure it's a day he'll never forget riding that fast.
"I'd like to think I'll be up there. I'd be disappointed not to make one of the medal ride-offs. I'll just have to give it my best."
The world championships commence on Wednesday with the men's team pursuit and team sprint, men's scratch race, women's points race and women's 500m time trial.
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